18 August 2012

Home again!

After travelling for 18 hours yesterday, I made it home! My trip was a great success. I was able to finish working on the system on Wednesday afternoon, so I had the rest of Wednesday and Thursday to hike about and see the Greenland sites.

I replaced the video card, power supply, and processor card in our data acquisition system and now everything is running smoothly! Data is acquiring and looks great.

This is 7 hours worth of data after I fixed the machine. The two spikes near the beginning were me pressing the "calibrate" button.

With my work work out of the way, it was time to go exploring!

I went hiking a bit up the road from Kellyville to where there used to be a power plant when the United States had an air force base in Sondrestrom.

The tundra is so beautiful!

Because the water around here is mainly glacier fed, it has an amazing blue colour.

The same week I was up in Greenland, SRI had hired a contractor to come and paint the radar dish. It hadn't been painted since it was built in the early 1970s and there was rust, paint rubbing off, and other problems. He wasn't able to accomplish a lot in the week he was up because it was raining for about half the time, but he was able to go out for a few days.

You can see Mike hanging out painting away on the dish.

On Thursday morning, I went for a longer hike around Kellyville. I climbed the hill behind the radar dish, wandered around the tundra for a bit, found muskox skulls, and sat on a lovely picnic bench to have a snack and read my book.

After the site crew and painter were done working for the day, we decided to drive out to the ice cap. We drove for about an hour on a bumpy, sandy, windy road to get there. It was well worth it!

I'm glad that my trip went so well, the people who helped get me there and housed me were fantastic, and that I was able to visit such a beautiful place!

14 August 2012

I have arrived

I made it to Greenland! I freaked out a little bit thinking I had the wrong day or time when the bus to pick me up which was supposed to arrive at 0500, didn't show up until 0630. Other than not getting that extra hour of sleep, everything turned out just fine.

The view from my seat as we were getting ready to leave NY.

The plane we rode in was amazing. It is a Hercules C-130 plane. These are the planes used for getting up to Greenland and down to Antarctica. All the cargo is strapped down in the middle of the plane and the people are on bench seats along the side. At least you can get up and walk around the plane easily. I am glad I didn't have to use the toilet, it is essentially a metal pot with a curtain surrounding it.

Me and the plane during our refueling stop in Goose Bay, Labrador.

When we arrived, it was the fastest customs I had ever been through. The man stamped each of our passports and then left. We rode a bus over to the Kangerlussuaq International Science Support station where all the other passengers. Mary McCready picked me up and we drove the few kilometers out to Kellyville where the incoherent scatter radar is hosted. My room is in the same building as the controls for the radar. I am excited about staying in my slippers for most of the week.

This morning, I got up and started troubleshooting our data acquisition system with the help of our amazing engineer, Paul. Pull that card, put that there, turn it on, turn it off, change the card, pull the flash drive out, etc. We are still working through the issues, but I am confident that it will be fixed in the next day or so.

How I found our system.

I love macro shots of electronics.

In a lull between trouble shooting, I decided to go out and check on the coils. I followed the cable out and there didn't appear to be any cracks or tears in the casing. The coils are firmly buried under the tundra. Before we lost contact with the acquisition system, the spectrograms appeared like normal, so the coils are probably just fine.

Location of the coils. You can see the cable going under the dirt.

I also took some pictures of the radar, surrounding tundra, and our cable. I knew exactly which cable to follow!

I was advised by a fellow colleague, who had been out here before and knew that I am vegetarian, that I should probably bring my own food for my stay here. The day before I left, my husband and I went to the grocery store and stocked up on non perishable food stuffs. I think I'm not going to starve this week.

12 August 2012


It has been almost two years since my last field work for the MIRL lab and now I'm off to someplace great - GREENLAND! Not Greenland, NH, Greenland the country under the Kingdom of Denmark. I've had several people here in NH ask me to clarify that I was not staying in the state...

We have one of our magnetometer systems located at the Sondrestrom Research Facility. When it was decided that I would go to Greenland, it was because no one had visited our system since the install in 2007 and we wanted to make sure that everything was okay - no animal chewed on our cable, or the acquisition system was still operating within normal parameters. Now my travel has become imperative.

A few weeks ago, I was attending Radar Summer School in Banff, Canada (one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited (view photos here)) and as part of the school we were given incoherent scatter radar data to analyse and some of the data came from Sondrestrom. In an effort to look at the data in a variety of ways, I wanted to plot our magnetometer data, but was unable to log into the system. When I e-mailed the technician at the station, he said that the system was powering on, but he was also unable to log onto the machine. After some troubleshooting, we think the video card and possibly the processor are burned out. After working continuously for five years, they have been good cards. I'm on my way to replace the cards and get the system back up and running. As well as maybe learn more about the incoherent scatter radar they have in Greenland.

My travel schedule is a bit funny for getting up to Greenland. I am currently writing this on the C&J bus that will take me to Boston-South Station. I will then take an Amtrak train to Albany, NY (round trip ticket between Boston and Albany was only $85!). Then take a taxi up to my hotel in Clifton Park, NY. Tomorrow at 0500, there will be a bus to take me to the nearby air force base, where I will then be put on a C-130 plane for the 6 - 7 hour flight up to Greenland. It is not an exact time because we might or might not stop in Newfoundland for refueling. Then Greenland!

I'll try to post some pictures and updates when I can - the internet up there does not have the largest bandwidth.